PP/GC/CA/296 Copy of a letter from Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, to Sir S.Canning, concerning the return of the Turkish ambassador from London and the need for reform in Turkish administration and army; and the Hungarian refugee problem, 24 September 1850: contemporary copy
Copy, in the hand of a secretary, of a letter from Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, Broadlands, Hampshire, to Sir Stratford Canning, British ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Constantinople:<P> [Transcript]<P> "I have received your despatches and letters of the 5th [September] and 6th [September] and have just taken leave of the Turkish ambassador who starts on Thursday for Constantinople. I took the opportunity of requesting him to impress upon his government the necessity of improvement and reforms and of putting an end to the prevalent system of corruption and injustice, and I begged him to recommend strongly to the attention of his government the memorandum which you had given to the Sultan. There is obviously a great deal wanting to be done in every way and in every branch of * the * administration to bring Turkey into line with other powers, and to put her into a [f.1v] condition to defend herself; but much has already been accomplished, perhaps more than yet ever was done in the same space of time in any country in which there was so much room for improvement, and I am not discouraged, therefore, by the apparent slowness of progress but only encouraged to urge them on to further advance. It may be true that much of what has hitherto been done exists more in regulations and orders than in actual execution; but one ought not to undervalue the worth of rules, and laws and institutions even when they are not practically acted upon to the extent of their letter and spirit. As long as forms remain they are a fixed point to refer to, and as men improve [f.2r] and opinion grows more powerful, those forms become more and more the guide for conduct and events; and that which at first is only theory, in course of time is converted into practice.<P> Rose's report seems to me to be ably drawn up, and gives in a condensed form many useful suggestions. It may be true, as he says, that foreigners, introduced into the army as officers, have not as much influence for good as they might have, unless they are backed by the authority of some government, but still it is impossible not to think that much improvement might arise from infusing a good number of Poles and Hungarians and Italians into the Turkish service.<P> Such men would necessarily [f.2v] impart to the Turkish officers notions and knowledge that would be very useful; and the mere fact of Christians serving in this way in the Turkish army would have its effect in breaking down that exclusive and fanatical feeling which is represented as a bar to admission of Christian subjects of the Porte to situations of military command.<P> I am very glad that you have such a good arrangement for Slade and his subordinate. They will be able render useful service to the Turkish navy.<P> Why does the Turkish government not get some Prussian instructors for their cavalry ? The Prussian cavalry is excellent; and indeed the Turkish infantry could not be drilled and organised upon a better model than that of the Prussian service.<P> [f.3r] I remember at the reviews in 1817 or [18]18 of the armies of occupation in France, the Duke of Wellington being asked which he thought the best army, the Austrian, the Russian or the Prussian; his reply was, 'To say which are the best troops is to say a great deal more than I will take on myself to affirm; but I will tell you which of these I should like best to command in action; I should actually prefer the Prussians. They are the handiest, the best organised, and the most intelligent.'<P> [Postscript]<P> I earnestly hope the Turkish government is going to set free Kossuth and his [f.3v] companions. The Sultan ought not to degrade himself into being the gaoler of Prince Schwarzenburg's vengeance and suspicions."<P> 24 Sep 1850: contemporary copy <P> The postscript has been crossed through in pencil
Two papers, numbered "43" and "44" in red pencil
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Sir Stratford Canning, later first Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, British ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Ottoman empire, Sublime Porte: army, defence
Mehemed Pasha, alias Mehemet Pasha, Turkish ambassador at London, later seraskier and Minister for War
Tanzimat, Turkish reform movement, westernisation
Abdul Mejid, alias Abd al-Majid, Ottoman Sultan
Colonel Hugh Henry Rose, later first Baron Strathnairn, consul general for Syria, later secretary of the British embassy at Constantinople
Hungary: invasion by Russia: refugees, exiles
Adolphus Slade later Vice Admiral Sir Adolphus Slade, attached to the Turkish navy Mushaver Pasha
Austria, Russia, Prussia: merits of their army
Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington
Felix, Prince Schwarzenberg, President of the Austrian Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs
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